When compared to other states, Texas ranks number one for the frequency of tornadoes. One of the things that you can do to prevent being injured by a tornado is to be ALERT to the onset of severe weather. If a tornado “watch” is issued for the Commerce area,  it means that a tornado is possible. If a tornado “warning” is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is strongly indicated on radar; go to to safe shelter immediately! If you don’t regularly watch or listen to the weather report and it begins to look stormy, tune your radio to 88.9 KETR for the local weather report. Turn the television on for up-to-date weather warnings and watches. Listen for the Commerce Division of Emergency Management announcements that will interrupt cable programming it it becomes necessary. The Commerce Division of Emergency Management urges residents to learn what to do when a tornado is sighted. The most important rule is to get low and stay low. Tornado survivors have reported several happenings before the tornado hit:
  • A sickly  greenish or greenish black color to the sky.
  • If there is a watch or warning already posted – hail should be considered as a real danger sign.
  • A strange quiet that take place within or shortly after the thunderstorm. This is known as the calm before the storm.
  • Clouds moving by very fast, especially in a rotating pattern or gathering in one area of the sky.
  • A sound that resembles a waterfall or rushing air at first, but turns into a roar as it comes closer. The sound of a tornado has been compared to that of both trains and jets.
  • Debris dropping from the sky.
  • An obvious “funnel-shaped” cloud that is rotating or debris such as branches or leaves that are pulled upwards. (Even if no funnel cloud is visible.)
If a tornado is heading towards you, it is too late to make a plan. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, you should:
  1. Conduct tornado drills each tornado season.
  2. Designate an area in the home as a shelter and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat.
  3. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact”. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure that everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person. This will help should the family become separated during the storm.
If when a tornado strikes:
  • You are in your home; take cover in the center part of your home and on the lowest  floor. A small room such as a bathroom or a closet is the best place to take shelter. Stay away from windows!
  • If you are in an office building, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
  • If you are shopping, do not go to your car! Stay inside the store on the lowest floor and find an interior hall or room.
  • If you are at school, follow advanced plans to a designated shelter. Avoid auditoriums, gyms and areas with wide, free-span roofs.
  • If you live in a mobile home, even if it has a tie-down system – Evacuate.
  • The least safe place to be is in your vehicle. If you are in your vehicle, get out of it and seek shelter in a nearby building or lie flat in a close ditch or ravine. Most tornado deaths occur in cars.
  • If you are in open country, take cover on low, protected ground.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado – it may be moving faster than you think!
If possible, cover with a blanket or mattress to protect yourself from flying debris. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.